116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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Dan Branson, 88, of Iowa City, died Jan. 9, 2017, at Oaknoll Retirement Residence.
Dan was a longtime professor of civil engineering at the University of Iowa (1963-93) who was inducted in 2011 into the university's Legacy of Engineering Hall of Fame, which is reserved for those who made exceptional historical contributions toward advancing the university's College of Engineering.
Dan was a concrete expert, the most used construction material in the world, and his work on Deflections of Concrete Structures (the name of his McGraw-Hill book), is still being used and referenced throughout the world in building codes, standards and professional literature. He was an award-winning teacher, both within the university and nationally, having received the James M. Robbins National Excellence in Teaching Award from Chi Epsilon, the National Civil Engineering Honor Society.
Other professional awards include being selected to teach and research at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany, as an Alexander Von Humboldt U.S. Senior Scientist. This is an award given by the German government to thank the United States for its support in rebuilding German science after the Second World War. He also received the Martin P. Korn Award from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) for research offering the greatest contribution to the advancement of precast/prestressed concrete technology in research and design.
Locally, Dan designed the pedestrian spiral ramp at Burlington Street and Riverside Drive, which he walked on countless times as he would walk in good weather from his home on Tower Court to the engineering building. He also served the profession locally on the Iowa State Board of Engineering Examiners after appointment by Gov. Robert Ray.
Before coming to Iowa in 1963, he received his Ph.D. at the University of Florida and bachelor's and master's degrees from Auburn University, where he also played baseball and lettered. College was interrupted by service in the military during the Korean conflict, where he served as a second lieutenant, then first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Dan regarded himself as lucky to serve mostly in Germany, where his engineering background was called upon to help analyze bridges and infrastructure for future European conflicts that were feared after World War II.
Before service in Germany, he played shortstop on his battalion baseball team as the only non-professional player on the team's infield. Post-service, the GI Bill allowed him to complete his studies through graduate school and join the faculty at Auburn and then Alabama before coming to Iowa in 1963. Ironically, though Dan was born and bred in the South, his Branson ancestors were from Iowa, having moved to Iowa in the 1830s or early 1840s, before statehood.
Before attending Auburn, Dan played baseball and basketball at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., where he also attended high school (Murphy) as an award-winning athlete. Athletically, his favorite memory was having played on an all-star team coached by George Sisler, a hall-of-famer with one of the highest batting averages in Major League history. Dan's all-star team played their games at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1946, the year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by playing there.
Dan married his bride of 58 years, Fredine (McBryde), in 1956, after meeting her at Auburn, where she would receive a master's degree in education. She was quite active in local and state politics and civil matters, and her service included serving as chair of both the Johnson County Democratic Party and the Iowa Housing Finance Authority. Dan and Fredine were resolute Democrats throughout their 50-plus years in Iowa. Dan and Fredine also were travelers before and after retirement, having made it to most of Western and Eastern Europe, China (Dan), Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, but only 49 of the 50 states. Their grandchildren, Sam and Zach, also were the subject of great attention and daily thoughts in retirement, including at their condo in Destin, Fla., before health conditions intervened.
Dan is survived by his son, Tim (Susan) (Golden Valley, Minn.), and his grandchildren, Sam (19) and Zach (17).
Dan was preceded in death by his wife, Fredine; his daughter, Kathy; and his sisters, Marilyn (Leon) and Susan (Coward).
Visitation will be on Sunday, Jan. 15, from noon to 2 p.m. at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service. Private burial services will follow in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the ongoing Dan Branson endowed scholarship at the University of Iowa Foundation.
Online condolences can be shared with his family through the funeral home website at www.gayandciha.com.
Dan's family is most grateful to the amazing staff at Oaknoll, who took such good care of both Fredine and him during their extended illnesses.